Opinion: Devaluing Generation Y is Unfounded



Rachel Godin

Rachel Godin

Rachel Godin is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. She can be reached at [email protected].

We are Generation Y: the millennials– accused of being the most dumb and self-indulgent generation of all time. Some have gone so far as to say we are the lost generation. The paradox of this is that our bad reputation comes from the very culture which has, until now, shaped us: not vice-versa. As we step up to the responsibilities left to us, we are questioned on our ability to produce and contribute; skills that were passed down to us by the very groups that now put our integrity and ability on trial.

We see the world through a lens skewed by governmental polarity, prevalence of war, economic instability, and pervasive technological advancement. We might tend more toward reaction than revolution and approach the ever-changing cultural landscape with passivity, but Generation Y does not deserve to be called “the lost generation”. “Lost Generation” is negatively loaded, as it was used to define the lost group of post-World War I expatriates. Ernest Hemingway made the term famous in his book “The Sun also Rises”, in which he epitomized the generation. According to Carlos Baker’s 1972 book, “Writer as Artist”, “Hemingway believed the characters in The Sun Also Rises may have been ‘battered’ but were not lost.” Our argument is as such.

Negative stereotypes of millennials fail to factor in the effect our having been born into unstable economic circumstances has had our social evolution and some important, positive distinctions that make us indispensable. Millennials are digital whizzes who prosper in creative environments and are the most educated in American history, dispelling the lazy stereotype.

Businesses are learning to adapt to the creative workplace expectations of the young incoming workforce. Google’s philosophy is “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world,” and according to Google Spokesperson Jordan Newman in an interview with The New York Times, “…Success depends on innovation and collaboration.”

Not to be confused with self-entitlement, millennials prioritize happiness over security. This is a fact employers ought to keep in mind when focusing on attracting and retaining their employment. A recent Google study supported this argument with stats that showed more searches for “fulfilling careers” than “secure careers”.

Millennials are extremely tolerant, civic-minded, and socially aware. We might be “generation me”, but we are also “generation we.” “Besides the fact that we are masters of digital communication, we also aim to do well by doing good for others. Almost 70 percent say that giving back and being civically engaged are their highest priorities,” said author Leigh Buchanan in “Meet the Millennials.”

Our tolerance has also led to economic prosperity; According to The Economist, “women have contributed more to global GDP growth than have either new technology or the new giants, China and India.”

Millennials might be image-obsessed consumers, but it is important to note our prominent skepticism of big business and interest in the sustainable marketplace. According to Forbes contributor Micah Solomon, we grew up “being bombarded by advertising claims since [we] were in utero.”

Before baby-boomers label us, they should take a look at the mistakes they have made so far, because we have just adapted to them. For instance, our education consists of unpaid internships, loans, and debt. According to CNNMoney, 2013 graduates incurred $35,000 on average. CNN said,“About 85% of college graduates contributed their own money toward college costs — with 27% reporting that they contributed more than $10,000.” All we expect is to be compensated for the effort we put into preparing for our futures and for the changes we incite to be recognized as necessary change rather than character defects.